Stiq Figures, September 16 – 22: Banjo-Kazooie edition

Welcome to Stiq Figures, where the sales dat深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛a is after the break and the posts don’t matter.The collectathon genre can get bogged down in frustrating, mindnumbing chores passed off as gameplay, but never for a second did I get tired of hunting down musical notes and Jinjos in Banjo-Kazooie. Between trying to stop a witch with a knack for rhymes and having a bird in my backpack, I played BK regularly until Super Smash Bros. Melee’s instruction booklet consumed my life (I had the game for two weeks before I had a GameCube).Unfortunately, the follow-ups to BK never really worked as well for me as the original effort. I thought Banjo-Tooie’s map was a little too big for its own good – instead of feeling encouraged to explore, I felt bored in its winding tunnels and massive rooms. I was excited to see what Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts would do to mix things up … until I played it, anyway. Still, two sequels that have never really meshed with me haven’t altered my fondness for the original. The balance the original BK struck between platforming and adventure felt ideal to me and is easily my favorite platformer from the N64 or PlayStation. It’s just a shame the bird and bear haven’t been up to much lately.Share your thoughts on the series in the comments, even if you liked the sequels, once you check this week’s Japanese hardware sales after the jump! 3DS LL: 118,400 [DOWN] 118,3003DS: 40,988 [UP] 896PS3: 10,749 [DOWN] 1,397Wii U: 5,824 [UP] 821Vita: 5,155 [DOWN] 865PSP: 5,082 [DOWN] 367Wii: 965 [UP] 3Xbox 360: 610 [UP] 366

CyanogenMod creator Steve Kondik on the challenges of refining the ROM

Oppo N1 launch, Steve “Cyanogen” Kondik was surrounded by several Oppo ambassadors and tech writers at a hotel lounge in Beijing. It’s a far cry from where he began: toying with Android ROMs out of “boredom” about five years ago.”When I started this thing, I had, like, no idea that people would actually care,” said Kondik, the creator of CyanogenMod. “I was kind of watching out to see who was going to bring Linux to the first mobile device, in a way that it didn’t absolutely suck.”In the end, it was Android that stood out with its open-source development, and Kondik saw the potential of adding his own enhancements to devices running on this OS. By day, the Seattle-based developer was a lead engineer at a bioinformatics startup in Pittsburgh; but during his free time, he worked on what later became CyanogenMod for the legendary T-Mobile G1, the world’s first commercial Android device. And of course, he bought it on the day it came out. It’s obvious that Kondik isn’t the only person who desires such a high level of software customization and polishing, especially long after the vendors stop supporting their outdated devices. To date, CyanogenMod has registered more than 7.9 million active installs across multiple devices. Plus, there’s a team of voluntary translators adding languages that are sometimes not supported by either Google or the vendors. And these numbers will likely jump again with the launch of Cyanogen Inc., a small team backed by Benchmark Capital and “some great guys on the board.” Their goal is to refine the CyanogenMod experience while still giving prosumers the same customization power, as well as working closely with manufacturers — the first being Oppo with the N1.”What it’s really going to be about is services. We’re not trying to sell CyanogenMod or anything like that.””We have some good ideas coming, and you’re gonna start seeing some interesting stuff that nobody’s done before pretty soon,” said Kondik. “What it’s really going to be about is services. We’re not trying to sell CM or anything like that. We’re trying to build back-end services and things alongside CyanogenMod that are really high-end and really interesting.”Alas, that was all Kondik could tell us at this stage, but the initial focus is set on getting as many users as possible by providing an easy solution to install CyanogenMod. With the recent release of the 10.1.3 build (based on Android 4.2), you can also see the team officially rolling out their CyanogenMod account service, which “provides access to value-added services and functionality.” These currently include device tracking and remote wiping, though both are also offered by Google’s Android Device Manager service.Of course, CyanogenMod has more to offer. Kondik pointed out that his ROM gets these cool features that sometimes “come out of nowhere” from contributors, and he reminded us that his was the first ROM to offer the “swipe-to-delete” action — long before Google baked this into Android. Koushik “Koush” Dutta, creator of ClockworkMod and now VP of Engineering at Cyanogen Inc., has also been working on AirPlay Mirroring from a CyanogenMod phone, as he demonstrated with his work-in-progress in the above video. Kondik admitted that there’s still a lot of work to be done here, but he believes such wireless implementation of enabling a second screen “is a big deal.” Unsurprisingly, Google’s now watching this space as well.As the saying goes: you win some, you lose some. One significant feature that CyanogenMod lost after the launch of Cyanogen Inc. was the Focal camera app, as its creator, Guillaume Lesniak, objected to letting the newly formed company controversially relicense his work. The developer argued in length that this would have meant Focal would no longer be recognized as a contribution, and that Cyanogen Inc. could do whatever it wanted with his app, despite the company’s promise to also keep the app’s GPL (General Public License) — which begged the question as to why bother relicensing it in the first place — as well as pay him according to his pricing. Many other contributors, too, felt they w深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛eren’t given the full picture of CyanogenMod’s plan to go commercial back then.Leaving the thorny issue of code licensing aside, another area of interest for Kondik’s team is the theme market. While the ROM’s been supporting themes for some time, users can only find them by searching through Google Play, which isn’t ideal due to the severity of keyword spamming these days. On the other side of the fence, only the experienced developers can create these themes due to the lack of dedicated tooling, but there’s less appeal for them to do so if their themes are buried by others who game the keyword system. Kondik hopes to fix both problems by building a dedicated ecosystem for themes, a feat that has helped popularize Xiaomi’s MIUI in China.”I think the best thing about MIUI is that they did a really good job with their themes,” confirmed Kondik. “I mean, it’s really awesome; they really nailed it. They made it really easy to create them, too.”We’re lacking a lot of that tooling as well; you kind of have to edit a bunch of XML yourself [and] run some crazy commands to build the theme APK (Android application package file). So we’re looking at building some good tooling to make it really easy, so people can just really make it look and act however the heck they want.”The bigger challenge for Cyanogen Inc. is to convince more OEMs to open up their bootloader and kernel to Kondik’s team — preferably ahead of device launches for more polishing. But the mobile industry’s been going back and forth over this issue, so it’ll be a tough road ahead even for a famous brand like Kondik’s. Of course, patient modders can eventually hack their way through locked bootloaders and then into the kernel, but Kondik would rather not rely on, nor release, bootloader exploits for now.”What’s more interesting is to see if we can get some cooperation, and end this nonsense of putting all these locks on there that don’t really solve any problem,” said Kondik. “All they do is just make people mad, and they get cracked like a week later, anyway. So it’s just like this arms race that keeps escalating — it’s stupid; it’s pointless.”Looking from their perspective, though, Kondik thinks the old-fashioned companies fear that modders may enable some type of theft services (which is obviously not CyanogenMod’s objective, said the founder), or that this has something to do with safeguarding their tethering services.”But all of that [is] on the service side; it’s not something you’d lock down a device for. And then a lot of it is, ‘Oh, you know, they might break the device; we may get returns.’ It’s really hard to brick one of these devices, though.”If you want to void your warranty, you should be able to void your warranty.””But if you want to void your warranty, you should be able to void your warranty,” continued Kondik, who then praised HTC for coming up with a bootloader unlocking scheme that lets users make their own decisions. While there’s also Google’s AOSP program (in which CyanogenMod is also a participant), Kondik believes it can be a lot friendlier in terms of minimizing the complexity involved in offering choices to users — between CyanogenMod’s launcher and Google’s Holo theme, for instance.What if Cyanogen Inc. was to release its own devices in the future, much like how Xiaomi ended up making its own phones for MIUI? “Well, it’s a terrifying idea,” responded Kondik, who implied that it’s still early days for his core team of 17 people — a stark contrast to, say, Oppo’s 5,000-strong army. For now, the priority is on finding good partners to turn this event into something big — so much so that Kondik sees the possibility of letting a mobile phone manufacturer acquire Cyanogen Inc., should this opportunity arise. That said, such an offer would “need to be wildly beneficial for both sides and really make sense,” given how much emotional investment everyone’s put in.”We don’t want to sell it for a bunch of money to somebody that wouldn’t know what to do with it. If something like that were to happen, it would have to be a big deal.”So far we haven’t had any acquisition offers,” added Kondik, who then turned to one of the Oppo ambassadors. “You wanna buy CM? $100 billion?”

Star Citizen’s salvaging career unveiled

Don’t look now, but there’s some more, ahem, feature creep coming to Star Citizen. OK, not really, but Cloud Imperium has announced the $21 million stretch goal, and it is “a major gameplay feature we have been hoping to include,” according to Chris Roberts’ latest letter from the chairman. The feature is salvage, and “salvage isn’t an aside: It’s a career with its own mechanic, story tie-ins, and universe-shaping endgames.”The dev team has also released some new concept art of a female explorer avatar, and Roberts also takes a moment to outline the options for continuing the fundraising campaign beyond the original fully-funded mark. “The more funds we can raise in the pre-launch phase, the more we can invest in additional content and perhaps more importantly we can apply greater numbers of resources to the various tasks to ensure we deliver the full functionality sooner rather than later,” he explains.There’s currently a poll at the end of the letter that offers three options for crowdfunding continuation. As of press time, 88% of the 13,000 respondents have vote深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛d to continue crowdfunding extra features and development milestones.

Gloria Victis shows off latest update in screenshots

The last Gloria Victis update expanded the landmass for adventuring. And now the newest update makes that land more interactive than ever. Not only can players harvest crops (including picking mushrooms), but they can also use doors, gates, and levers — actions that will be integral to utilizing castle traps and siege machines. There are also revamps to structures and character creation. You can get the full scoop on the forums.In addition, the new website — with more in-depth information about crafting, lore, combat, and nations — is almost complete. A teaser for the site is seen above, and the new screenshots of the game are in the gallery below.[Thanks to Liting Zhu for the tip!] Gallery: Gloria Victis | 27 Photo深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛s 27 +23

Charging products from JustMobile: Review and giveaway

JustMobile’s line of accessories that look like they could have rolled out of a lab in Cupertino just got a bit larger with the addition of two new car chargers — the Highway Duo (US$39.95) and the Highway Max ($29.95) — and a trio of Lightning charging cables; the AluCable, the AluCable Mini, and the AluCable Twist. Sure, these aren’t the most exciting accessory products on the market, but you sure can’t do a lot without a charger and cables! Gallery: JustMobile Charging Products for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch | 8 Photos 8 +4 First, let’s take a look at the car chargers. I was confused by the names of the Highway Duo and the Highway Max. Wouldn’t you think that something called the “Duo” would have a pair of USB charging ports? Wrong. The Highway Max is the one with the two ports, both set up for 2.1 A output that’s perfect for charging up a pair iPhones or iPads while on the road. The Highway Max comes with a knurled aluminum end piece that looks good and provides a good grip for, and it has a USB to micro-USB cable included in the box.The Highway Duo does have the ability to charge two devices at once, as there’s a built-in 1 m Lightning cable that serves up 2.1 A of current to your favorite Apple device and one open USB port (1 A) for another device.Of the two chargers, I think the Highway Max would be the more useful one as it can handle two devices at 2.1 A each, and it also features a fuse for circuit protection. If you already have cables for your iPhones or iPads, you can use those and get away with saving ten dollars over the cost of the Highway Duo. Surprisingly, the Highway Duo doesn’t have a fuse built in.Now let’s look at the cables. Apple charges $19 for a white USB to Lightning cable in either .5 m or 1 m leng深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛ths, and $29 for a 2 m cable. JustMobile’s AluCable Mini is just .1 m (10 cm) long and costs $19.95. The AluCable is a full 1.5 m long and sells for $24.95, and the coiled AluCable Twist (1.8 m length) is also $24.95. The JustMobile cables are all MFi (Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad) approved, and at least for the AluCable and AluCable Twist, are less expensive than their Apple counterparts.The AluCable line also has another thing going for it — the cables just look cool. There’s a aluminum casing around both ends of the cable, and they look like they’ll last a lot longer than Apple’s standard white cables.ConclusionJustMobile makes quality gear, and the new charging cables and car chargers are no exception. If you’re looking for an alternative to Apple’s Lightning cables, the AluCable series is well-built and competitively priced. We also recommend the dual-port Highway Max for its fuse-protected design, high output, and excellent price. The Highway Duo doesn’t receive our recommendation, as it is priced higher than competitive car chargers and does not offer circuit protection.GiveawayHere are the rules for the giveaway:Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.The entry must be made before October 9, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.You may enter only once.Five winners will be selected, which each person winning one of the following five products from JustMobile — the Highway Duo valued at $39.95, the Highway Max valued at $29.95, the AluCable valued at $24.95, the AluCable Mini valued at $19.95, or the AluCable Twist valued at $24.95.Click Here for complete Official Rules.

WoW Moviewatch: Belligerent Immersus

Observant players may have noted we haven’t seen any wild and crazy introductions to raid videos out of Fifth Element lately. That would be because the creators of these remarkable videos have since moved on to a different rading guild called Belligerent. Luckily for all of us, they have begun making more boss kill videos with clever intros for their new guild, beginning with the video for Immersus shown above.Like the other kill videos, the intro for Immersus takes a shot at recreating an opening sequence — this time, the film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. While I’ve never seen the film in question, when watching a side by side of the video above and the opening titles for the movie, they match up perfectly. I’m pretty excited that Buffmonk and Pudrick are still around and still making films, even if it’s for a different guild — and I can’t wait to see what they whip up for the rest of the Siege of Orgrimmar. Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Hav深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛e suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an email at moviewatch@wowinsider.com.

Wander winds its way to the PS4

At PAX Prime, players who yearned for more to a game than just combat were treated to a glimpse of a game that doesn’t even have combat. Aptly named Wander, this game’s focus is on collaborative exploration and discovery. Currently the game runs on Linux, PC, and OS X, but tod深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛ay Creative Director Loki Davison announced that the Oculus Rift-supporting title will be available on the PlayStation 4.What can players expect when wandering in Wander? Explorable land totals 64 square kilometresso far and players will start off as a giant tree exploring a rainforest. Throughout their journeys, they can morph into a total of five different forms: Ent, Polynesian Elf Girl, Griffon, Azertash (sea creature), and Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger). You can get a taste of the world in the gallery below. Gallery: Wander | 12 Photos 12 +8 [Source: Wander Game press release]

DuckTales Remastered pogos into retail November 12

An analog version of digitally-distributed DuckTales: Remastered will be available at retail on November 12 in North America.Capcom announced this morning that physical copies of Scrooge McDuck’s remastered 1989 adventure can be yours to treasure on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Wii U for $19.99. The digital version is $14.99.Our review of the game said “Remastered serves as a suitable alternative to the NES original, even though its attempts at forging its own identity may ruffle your tailfeathers.” Gallery: DuckTales Remastered | 17 Photos 17 深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛 +13

Daily Deals for September 16, 2013

exclusive TUAW Deals, a handy list from Dealnews and our own hand-picked iOS and OS X selections.TUAW’s Daily DealsThe Ultimate Xcode Fundamentals Course [On sale for $79, down from $499]Looking for a new hobby? Want to reach a new audience for your business? Looking to build and design profitable iPhone and iPad apps? You’re in luck. This online course can teach anyone how to create beautiful iOS applications on Apple’s seemingly complicated Xcode software. This course contains valuable information on how to get your app idea to developers and the app store as quickly as possible. If you have an app idea and you want to learn a valuable skill, this course is for you!Save 84% off The Ultimate Xcode Fundamentals Course at TUAW Deals. Get unlimited access to this course forever. Can view your course on your iPad.iOS SoftwareRunPee [iOS Universal; Category: Entertainment; Now free, down from $0.99] The RunPee.com app is constantly updated, the day movies are released, with the latest releases to tell you the best time to run and pee during your favorite movies without missing anything important.Next – Modern Reminder [iOS Universal; Category: Productivity; Now free, down from $0.99] Next – Modern Reminder — Do you have outstanding tasks that are not done on time? This is the right app for you. Modern Reminder uses a complex math algorithm to find the best way to achieve success in any of your goals.Hidden Wonders of the Depths HD [iPad; Category: Games; Now free, down from $2.99] Discover the beauty of marine life in this exciting mix of match three, mahjong and hidden-object fun.Omicron HD [iPad; Category: Games; Now free, down from $1.99] Omicron is a color reaction game for one or two players on the same device.Stickman Tennis [iOS Universal; Category: Games; On sale for $0.99, down from $1.99] Stickman Tennis is a fast-paced realistic tennis game on spectacular courts and an astonishing atmosphere, simple controls and tons of replay value.Asphalt 8: Airborne [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $0.99] The best iOS arcade racing game series reaches a new turning point! Perform dynamic, high-speed aerial stunts in an intense driving experience powered by a brand-new physics engine.oneSafe – Secure password manager and data vault to protect your privacy and keep your secrets safe [iOS Universal; Category: Productivity; One sale for $0.99, down from $5.99] oneSafe stores your confidential information including your secret documents and keeps everything safe and easily accessible at the right place.Flight Unlimited [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $2.99] Experience the ultimate flight simulator. Flight Unlimited is a graphically intensive flight simulator that offers some of the best visuals in the App Store.Plunder! (Full) [iPhone; Category: Games; Now free, down from $1.99] The pirate arcade action game is back and better than ever with more mines, more peg-legs and more Plunder.Pivvot [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $2.99] Pivvot is a thrilling game of strategic avoidance that will consistently test and challenge your ability to make quick, impulsive decisions. Apple’s App of th深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛e week.OS X SoftwareXCOM: Enemy Unknown – Elite Edition [OS X; Category: Games; On sale for $32.99, down from $49.99] An electrifying combination of turn-based tactics, global strategy and sophisticated role-playing, XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Elite Edition puts you in charge of XCOM, a top-secret military organization responsible for defending Earth from a devastating alien invasion.Encrypt Videos Tool [OS X; Category: Video; On sale for $2.99, down from $3.99] Encrypt Videos Tool is a fast and simple tool. It can protect any video file format and any video file size. It lives on your Mac’s menu bar and is very convenient.Encrypt Tool [OS X; Category: Utilities; On sale for $3.99, down from $4.99] Click “Encrypt” menu item or drag and drop the files to the application icon in the menu bar, and an encrypted version of your files will be generated automatically.YoWindow Weather [OS X; Category: Weather; Now free, down from $9.99] Beautiful animated landscape reflects the weather at your home. With YoWindow you can see the weather, not just numbers.AppyFridays [OS X; Category: Various; On sale for $9.99] AppyFridays is offering a Supreme Bundle that heavily discounts three OS X apps. Titles include Paint Supreme, DupeZap Plus and Car Maintenance. The sale lasts until September 20.Note: All prices are USD and subject to change. Some deals may expire quickly. TUAW is not responsible for third-party deals and cannot guarantee availability or quality of any particular product at a specific price.

Original Age of Conan game director talks combat influences

If you’ve been around the MMO block a time or two, you probably know the name Gaute Godager. If not, he’s an original Funcom founder, as well as a game director on 2001’s Anarchy Online and 2008’s Age of Conan.AoC fansite Assassin’s Hideout recently scored an interview with the elusive developer, and it’s an interesting read thanks to tidbits about the game’s setting and its unique combo combat system. As for the former, Godager says that while Funcom considered many IPs — including George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire — the Conan property made the most sense because it lent itself to the “stylized HBO-like 深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛grown-up game” the team desired. It also helped that Robert E. Howard’s Hyboria license had recently been acquired by Funcom partner Paradox.Age of Conan’s combo system is indebted to a 1993 fighting game called Samurai Showdown that served as one of Funcom’s very first projects. The developers all took a fencing lesson, during which the instructor said that “all sword fighting [is] based around only six attacks. Up left, up right, straight down, down side up left, down side up right, and stab.” Godager says that the explanation stuck with him and ultimately had a significant influence on MMO combat. “Look at EverQuest and draw a line to Neverwinter,” he explained. “You will see Conan in there directing the speed, intensity, and flow of combat.”[Thanks Slith!]

Hammerhead LED-based bike navigation keeps you on the righteous paths (video)

crowd sourced-paths (via Strava and MapMyRide) and will even point you to the nearest Citibike exchange. The unit pairs with your iPhone or Android’s GPS to help find invisible bike trails through your city, and supposedly it can function without a data connection — perfect if you’re a desert cyclist. A $75 pledge ($70 if you act fast) will get you one gizmo, or a $140 promise will get you two. You like to spoil your riding buddy now and again, don’t you? Gallery: Hammerhead Navigation | 17 Photos 17 深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛 +13 Show full PR textHammerhead increases viability of daily city commuting by introducing an intelligent device with bright LEDs to indicate where and when to turnFirst company working with the latest crowd-funding platform, Dragon Innovation, for more viable support platformNEW YORK (September 12, 2013) – Hammerhead Navigation has created a unique system for commuters to navigate streets and trails with ease. The Hammerhead is a compact, portable device that affixes to handlebars and conveniently guides your ride with an LED light array. The LEDs provide turn-by-turn directions, including when you’ve ultimately reached your destination. With the new Hammerhead, consumers can download the iPhone® or Android® app, and receive crowd sourced route suggestions based on their preferences. Once a route is selected, the app communicates via Bluetooth Smart, allowing the phone to remain safely stashed away with its screen turned off. Hammerhead supports the movement for “greener” transportation, and encourages a more viable urban biking community.Hammerhead is unlike anything currently on the market with its form and function. As the first crowd sourced navigation solution for bike routes, Hammerhead seeks to guide bikers onto safe and desirable bike paths all around the country. Similar to other popular social sharing apps such as Waze, Hammerhead showcases the best bike routes in a user’s area. For the first time, users can immediately send routes to others. Hammerhead will also bring real-time feedback to competition on popular apps like Strava and MapMyRide, showing riders how they are doing as their segment unfolds. It will showcase speed relative to competitors speed at any given point in the segment.Hammerhead is the first device built to work seamlessly with major bike share companies, Bixi and B-Cycle – the companies that offer public bikes for New York’s Citibike and other major cities like San Francisco and Boston. When utilizing the “sharing clip,” which quickly removes and affixes to handlebars, Hammerhead notifies time that is left on a rental bike, or navigates to the next rental docking station.Hammerhead doubles as a bike light for night visibility, incorporating a bright headlight and two side lights. It is packaged with a universal handlebar mount and can achieve approximately 15 hours of navigation use. The efficient hammerhead app will allow approximately 6 hours of smartphone use.”We think there is a huge gap in the biking market, in which we can not only promote safer, more frequent bike riding, but also leverage existing smartphone hardware rather than duplicating it as is done by standalone GPS units,” says Hammerhead Founder and CEO Piet Morgan. “Hammerhead offers users a simple, safe and efficient means of navigating.” “We are bikers ourselves, and aim to bring the power of real-time social navigation to biking, all in an affordable and simple package.”Hammerhead is now live on one of the newest additions to the crowd-funding platforms, Dragon Innovation. Dragon Innovation is a venture backed outlet that ensures hardware projects are poised to execute before funding. Unlike similar platforms, Dragon Innovation will work directly with its first cohort of companies before, during and after the funding campaigns.”This new endeavor with Dragon Innovation is another game changer,” says Morgan. “As one of the first companies to collaborate with this new funding platform, we feel a great sense of confidence that we will successfully bring such an intriguing and promising device as the Hammerhead to the market to simplify anyone’s ride.”The new Hammerhead is now live at www.dragoninnovation.com. With 30 days remaining, Hammerhead is seeking $145,000 to bring this to market.

The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV’s Grand Companies

Wednesday’s maintenance came and went, a handful of minor issues surfaced and were quickly squashed, and Final Fantasy XIV moved on. Since the maintenance, I hit a queue once or twice and that was it. This has not stopped several people from crowing that the game has already failed, but most of us have accepted that server issues happen on launch. And you’re getting some extra free time out of it in a game whose chief issue is that everyone actually wants to play it.So let’s move on and talk about Grand Companies. It’s easy to miss the enlistment point in the Companies if you’re a Legacy player focusing on other activities, and it’s just as easy to enlist and then completely forget about the company since it’s a different sort of progress track. So let’s talk about what the companies contain, what you can get out of them, and why you should bother caring. What are the Grand Companies?Let’s abridge the history lesson. The Grand Companies of Eorzea are a sort of independent military force for each of the three nations. Each is beholden directly to the leader of the nation (or the leader’s right-hand man, in the case of the Immortal Flames) and is concerned with the defense of Eorzea as a whole rather than simple national politics. Each has agents who work within and without the borders of each nation, ensuring that no state stands alone against the Empire and the Primals.In game terms, you wind up joining a Grand Company after the instanced battle you hit around level 20. (Pretty much everyone knows what that battle is by now, but to avoid spoilers, I’ll leave it a mystery.) Your nation of origin is irrelevant here; you can join any of the three companies. After one mission in service of your company of choice, you can completely ignore the company if you want to, although you probably will want to get that chocobo license.What can you get?Did I mention chocobos? Yes, I did. You can buy yourself that much-vaunted bird for the bargain price of 2000 seals. That’s pretty easy to get, and you can certainly mark that as your terminus point for involvement.Aside from that, the Grand Company has access to many things. At lower ranks you can buy some high-quality a深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛rmor and weapons for characters in the low 20s as well as manuals designed to help your gathering and crafting classes level more quickly. Once you get a bit higher, you can buy even better items, culminating in some nicely itemized level 50 weapons (item level 55) with unique skins. There are also some nice accessories here and there and other goodies for players who climb the ranks, including accessories that will boost the spiritbond rate of your gear (useful especially with high-level equipment that you want to convert).How do you get promotions? You ask for them. Early promotions require merely seals, but later promotions require you to also clear hunting logs or quests along the way. The cost of ranking up increases by 1000 seals for each rank, with a new tier of equipment available after major promotions.How can I earn seals?The easiest way to earn seals is to do quests specifically for the company. This is not always reliable; there aren’t many quests that award seals, period. Your next-easiest method is FATEs, which all reward seals in addition to experience and gil (and possibly items). Of course, those are a bit harder to grab on demand.So how can you get seals on your own schedule? For starters, you can do Grand Company leves as long as you have some leve allowances. You also can take part in the game’s supply and provisioning missions. Supply missions request a crafted item based on your level of skill in a given craft, while provisioning missions ask you to gather something based on your skill level. Turning in the requested items awards seals and some experience for the class in question.Once you reach the rank of Sergeant Second Class, you can also make use of all those bits of unsellable and nonconvertible dungeon gear you’ve picked up. Expert delivery requests have no reset timer and just ask you to turn in one piece of dungeon gear for a variable number of seals. It’s certainly the fastest and easiest route, although if you are chain-running Brayflox for this, please note that there are easier ways.Last but not least, joining a Grand Company adds a new hunting log category just for your company, which rewards you in seals rather than experience. These logs do contain some dungeon enemies in addition to various beastman forces in the open world. Filling out the log is required for certain promotions.There are separate achievement lines for clearing a large number of supply and provisioning missions, with 1000 required for a title and 5000 for an accessory. Note that at three provisioning missions per day at best, it will take you four and a half years to earn that accessory (supply is a bit more reasonable with about two years). These numbers might get tweaked a bit. You also can earn achievements for collecting seals; the achievement line is cumulative, so you don’t need to fear spending seals along the way.Where can I get Grand Company leves?Company leves are the best way to both level and get seals short of wandering Coerthas chasing FATEs, but they’re not always easy to track down. Your officer will point you toward the level 20 and 25 levemetes, but there’s nothing I’ve found to indicate where the other leves are located.Level 30 Grand Company leves can be found in Costa del Sol in Eastern La Noscea, just a quick ferry ride from Limsa Lominsa. Level 35 Grand Company leves are offered in the Observatorium in southeastern Coerthas, while level 40 leves are available at Whitebrim Front (central-north Coerthas). I’ve yet to find any leves for 45 or 50, although I suspect the former at least might be found in Mor Dhona (if not now then soon).Completing Grand Company leves ties into three achievement lines. First, you can earn more seals, which ties into the earning achievements (naturally). There are also rewards for clearing a certain number of unique levequests as well as a total number of leves cleared for a given company. Clearing 200 leves for a company earns you a title.Which should I choose?If you’ve already picked a Company or haven’t gotten there yet and are worried you’ve picked the wrong one, don’t. Every Grand Company has offerings for every class, and the differences are slight.That having been said, the Maelstrom is obviously the best company.Feedback is welcome down below or via mail to eliot@massively.com, as always. Next week, I want to talk about the first few dungeons in the game in the abstract, and the week after that I’d like to talk about the back-and-forth of the main story content.From Eorzea to Vana’diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix’s vibrant online worlds.

Destiny beta launches early 2014, pre-orders get first access

The beta for Destiny launches in early 2014 on PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 and Xbox One, Activision announced today. Those who pre-order at participating retailers will get early access to the beta: In the US, these stores are Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop and Wal Mart, and in the UK it’s Amazon, Smyths, Tesco and Blockbuster. Check out the list of participating retailers, by country, here.Those who previously pre-ordered Destiny from the appropriate retailers are automatically entered into the beta and will receive vouchers via email.In September, Destiny Design Director and 15-year Bungie veteran Joseph Staten left the company to “tackle new creative challenges.” Ga深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛llery: Destiny (10/1/13) | 10 Photos 10 +6

iOS 7 Control Center and Notification Center: Information and settings on the fly

My favorite feature in iOS 7 is the Control Center. Having such a feature was the one reason I jailbroke my phone under previous versions of iOS. No more; the Control Center handles almost all of my desires when it comes to instant access to my most-used iOS settings. The Control Center and the Notification Cente深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛r go hand in hand, but let’s take a look at the Control Center first.Before you get started using it, go into your Settings and take a look at the Control Center options. You have two: the ability to access it on the lock screen and access within apps. I have both of these activated, but at the very least, I advise having the lock screen option activated.There are five rows on the iPhone version of Control Center.The first row features toggles for Airplane Mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and the Orientation Lock.The second row lets you set your brightness.The third row is a mini music player. It’ll let you know what song is playing, gives basic controls for music and adjusts volume.The fourth row provides access to AirDrop with compatible devices and AirPlay. As you can see, my soon-to-be-departed iPhone 4S doesn’t support AirDrop, so it doesn’t show on the screenshot.The final row has quick access to several apps: a built-in flashlight (finally), clock, calculator and the iPhone’s camera.The iPad setup of the Control Center puts all of these into two rows and is a bit different. AirDrop is on by default, and there’s only quick access to the camera and clock functions.I’ve been greatly pleased with Control Center on both my iOS devices. The one thing I wish is that you could customize what appears in the control center. I’d switch out my little-used Bluetooth toggle for the ability to turn my internet tethering off and on quickly. I’d like the ability to choose which apps I want to quick launch from Control Center, especially useful if you favor a third-party camera app such as Camera+.Notification CenterNotification Center is a lot like its predecessor in iOS 5 and iOS 6, except it now features the same sheer overlay as the Control Center. Like the Control Center, it can be accessed from the lock screen.The best new feature is a clear, concise view of what’s coming up today. As you can see from the image above, the weather is gorgeous in the Harrisburg area; it would take me about six minutes to drive to Enola from my apartment; and I have an upcoming meeting. This screen can be customized in settings to show different items in the today view, and I love how you can check off items on the Reminders list. The traffic update is one of the best features of Google Now that made its way to iOS 7.You can toggle among three different tabs to look at items specifically for today, all your notifications or the ones that you’ve missed over the past day. To dismiss notifications, you still have to go under the all section and clear them by app. I wish you could just swipe away them away.

Fallen Earth celebrates its 4th birthday

Fallen Earth is turning four years old today, and you know what that means, right? No, it doesn’t mean another CHOTA-in-a-cake gag; we’re still cleaning the carpets from last time. But it does mean that we’re here to show you what the game’s been up to for the last year!While year three was bittersweet for the post-apocalyptic MMO with a move to free-to-play and a significant staff cut, year four was fairy uneventful. Whether this is a good or bad thing has yet to be seen, but the content keeps trickling in regardless.This year we saw an introduction to farming and the Dome arena, with game updates showing off new Deathtoll weapons, coresuit armor, and the Vandal vehicle.But what’s in store for Fallen Earth’s next year? Recent staff shuffling doesn’t seem a concern for the game, according to a recent interview, and this month’s birthday bash will introduce the AP augmented weapons, new cosmetic items, and more.Read on past the jump for a round-up of news and features from Fallen Earth’s third year. Fallen Earth shares State of the Game birthday blogWhile深圳夜网_深圳桑拿网_深圳夜网论坛 many are celebrating (or suffering) back-to-school this month, Fallen Earth is focusing its celebratory sights on a different event: its birthday!Jukebox Heroes: Fallen Earth’s soundtrackHow would you score the apocalypse? What would the end of the world sound like if you put it to music? Perhaps it would be wrapped in a Western twang with notes of regret, longing, uncertainty, and struggle playing throughout.Fallen Earth prepares new Deathtoll weapons and the perilous DomeIt’s March! Spring is in the air, bringing with it the lilting cries of embattled players and their screams of horrific agony floating on the breeze.Fallen Earth introduces new coresuit armor, free respecsReloaded Productions has thrown a bone to Fallen Earth players who have been getting rolled by PvPers with powerful G.O.R.E. weapons. There’s some new player-crafted armor in town called a Stage 3 Coresuit, which uses procs to increase survivability in both PvP and PvE.Fallen Earth devs prepping two-man Dome PvE contentThe Fallen Earth dev team has posted a brief state-of-the-game letter for February. In it, we’re treated to a preview of something called the Dome, a two-man PvE arena concept that is currently in pre-production.Farming in Fallen Earth: An exclusive interview with the devsLate last week, Reloaded Games and GamersFirst announced that farming was coming to the post-apocalyptic sandbox Fallen Earth. The initial dev blog gave us some information on how farming will be implemented, but not much more beyond that.Fallen Earth unveils new weapons and bosses in time for its third anniversaryAnniversary gifts require careful thought, but Fallen Earth seems to know just what its players want. So patch 2.5 adds three powerful new weapons for players to use across the wastelands as well as three new bosses that carry required components for those weapons.